“Is everything okay?”
Chances are you’ve had some version of this conversation with your wife. And she probably follows it with several loud sighs, a few dirty looks, and very few answers. Rather than writing off her problem as a ‘female moment’, I’m going to tell you the solution:
All you have to do is ask the right questions and show interest in understanding what’s bothering her (assuming, of course, that you haven’t done something really, really boneheaded, in which case you’re going to need more than a bouquet of flowers).
The biggest mistake men make when trying to find out why their wives are mad is that they don’t try hard enough to figure out what is really wrong. She tells you she’s fine (red flag), you make a mental note to yourself that she’s in ‘another one of her moods’, and you move on with your day. The woman, however, will continue fuming, thinking that you don’t care and/or wondering how you can be so dumb, which will ultimately result in a major meltdown…in a month. And, let me tell you, a lot of bitter feelings can develop in a month.
So, how about fixing the problem from the get-go? Women aren’t nearly as complicated as you may think, and typically they will let you know when something is bothering them; you just need to be in tune to their behavior. You know your wife, and you know when she’s mad. And, most importantly, you know when she’s mad at you. Instead of ignoring her problems and accepting her answer that ‘nothing’ is wrong, prod a little bit.
Say something like, “I know you, and I can tell something’s bothering you. What’s up? I want to understand what I did wrong. Can we talk about it?”
And, if she starts to open up, continue asking questions, like, “What do you wish I’d done differently?”, and, in the likely chance that you still don’t know why she’s upset, say something like, “I want to understand what I did wrong so that I don’t do it again. Could you explain it to me further?”
Ignore the male instinct telling you to argue with her. As many men do, my boyfriend has a knack for debate, and, unfortunately, he is a right-a-holic, meaning that he suffers from the terrible addiction of always needing to be right, even when he is oh, so wrong.
For instance, I’ll say, “Well, it bothered me when you said you’d do x, but then you did y.” And he’ll respond with, “Well I did that because–!!”
No. Nonono. Ignore these instincts, and put your pride aside. Use key words like talk, care, and, yes, you must say the forbidden words of, “I’m sorry.” After talking to her and learning what is wrong, it is crucial to apologize, even if you still think she is over-reacting. In her mind, you did something out of line (silent treatment worthy, even), and she wouldn’t be upset with you if she didn’t truly believe she had good reason to be. It’s amazing how much of a difference a simple apology (genuine, of course!) will make. You don’t necessarily have to be sorry for what you did. You do, however, need to be sorry that you hurt her, and express interest in understanding further why she is upset.
And, whatever you do, never ever use the word ‘crazy’ when describing her feelings. My boyfriend likes to say that there is a huge difference in saying, “You’re acting crazy” and “You are crazy”. Let me go ahead and tell you that she will not hear the difference. Even if you say something like, “This argument is crazy”, she will always, always hear the words “Get away from me, you lunatic!” Unless she is pulling her hair out, screaming belligerently, and coming at you with a blunt object, you may never use the C-word.
So, let’s make sure we know the drill. She makes it known that she’s upset about ‘nothing’. You talk to her, ask her questions, and tell her that you understand. You’re sorry that you hurt her feelings and hope to learn from this. And, most importantly, she is not crazy at all.
Got it? I promise you’ll thank me in a month!